This month marks the 50th anniversary of scientist—Roger Revelle—briefing President Johnson about the hazards of CO2 emissions and climate change . I suspect that many will ask the obvious question: Why has it taken us so long to act on this known and worsening danger?
The answer to the above is obvious when one looks at the impact of political pressure exerted by energy interests like the infamous Koch Brothers that has only increased in the shadow of the Citizens United ruling. But this massive exercise in corporate-enabled societal procrastination gets even worse when you understand that the problem was common knowledge in the scientific community and presented to the public for nearly a decade before Dr. Revelle had his meeting with LBJ or briefed Congress. In fact, legendary film director Frank Capra produced what amounts to a public service announcement about this grave issue in 1958. (Yes, that Frank Capra.)
Many of us watch Frank Capra’s classic films to randomly raise our spirits (You Can't Take It With You—1938) or in celebration of the holidays (It’s a Wonderful Life—1946). Both of these films were transparently designed to heal the nation following the Great Depression and the end of World War II, respectively. Perhaps it is well past time for all of us to add another Capra classic to our regular playlist:The Unchained Goddess (1958). Only this time we should play it to remind ourselves that we have to take material actions to heal the atmosphere otherwise the happy ending we all seek and have been taught to expect will disappear as a possibility.